Billie Jo Spears, it turns out, cut “Harper Valley P.T.A.” as a single before Jeannie C. Riley did*. But Riley’s producers rushed hers out. And the result was a smash hit for Riley, and relative obscurity today for Spears.
That’s a shame, because Spears has some fun songs to discover. How can you resist “Mr. Walker It’s All Over,” in which the singer is sassily bidding farewell to her employer because she doesn’t “like the New York secretary’s life.”
*Margie Singleton also recorded a pre-Riley version of “Harper Valley P.T.A. Take a listen. And then think about how Riley has informed every single version you’ve ever heard in your life, because as it turns out, there is more than one way to sing about miniskirts and widowed whores.